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Best of 2015

21 Songs That Should Have Been Hits in 2015

Featuring tracks from Hilary Duff, Austin Mahone, Foxes and more, this list represents the year's most under-appreciated singles and undiscovered gems. Here’s to some of these tracks slowly catching on in 2016!

1 / 21

Hilary Duff, “Sparks”

Who knew the world needed Hilary Duff to whistle her way back into our lives? The former Lizzie McGuire star may not have graced radio with her comeback project, but pop obsessives rightfully championed this playful single (and its Tinder-free “fan demanded” music video).

2 / 21

Holychild, “Running Behind”

“Running Behind” by self-described brat-pop duo Holychild was featured in an Apple Watch commercial; it should have been featured on a whole lot more than that. With percussion that demands attention and Liz Nistico’s playful hopscotching across syllables, “Running Behind” highlights Holychild’s sorely underrated debut LP.

3 / 21

Grace Mitchell, “Jitter”

Declared a “World Record” by Zane Lowe in August, this multi-pronged piece of electro-pop should have been a radio smash, if only to make Top 40 a little more weird. Speak-singing? A breakdown in French? A jolting stutter of a hook? “Jitter” is a record that should have taken over the world.

4 / 21

Elliphant, “Love Me Badder”

Can Elliphant become a U.S. star already? While her “One More” collaborator MØ exploded with “Lean On,” Swedish pop auteur Ellinor Olovsdotter dropped a dub-inflected love jam designed to ring out over arenas. Fingers crossed for 2016.

5 / 21

Austin Mahone, “Dirty Work”

Nick Jonas impacted Top 40 with dance gems like “Levels” and “Jealous,” but Austin Mahone’s funky gathering of double entendres should have been standing tall alongside those hits. “Dirty Work” takes Mahone’s kid-friendly presentation and gives it necessary dimension without pushing too many boundaries; drop this at a bar mitzvah and see even the grandparents get down.

6 / 21

Phoebe Ryan, “Mine”

Sure, Phoebe Ryan landed a major label deal and got a Taylor Swift shout-out in 2015, but her effervescent “Mine” should have been her mainstream breakout. With a pre-chorus and hook that builds up anxiety and then releases it, “Mine” introduced the world to an engaging new voice with a killer knack for songwriting.

7 / 21

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Boy Problems”

When archeologists investigate how Carly Rae Jepsen did not rule the year 2015 thousands of years from now, they should also research this baffling fact: “Boy Problems” did not chart anywhere, because it was never released as a single, even though it’s a bulletproof pop song. With a clever concept and dazzling collection of hooks, “Boy Problems” details an eye-roll in the most euphoric way possible.

8 / 21

Erik Hassle, “No Words”

Suave, soulful disco music from another Swedish import ready to break big. Simply put, I have never met anyone who has listened to Erik Hassle’s “No Words” and disliked it; such a reaction seems improbable.

9 / 21

Say Lou Lou, “Nothing But a Heartbeat”

The dream-pop stylings of sister duo Say Lou Lou has been enticing for a few years, but Lucid Dreaming, their long-awaited and exhilarating debut LP, has one clear culmination. “Nothing But a Heartbeat” captures a whole range of emotions within one breathless bit of onomatopoeia in its chorus, and Say Lou Lou made good on many promising early singles.

10 / 21

MS MR, “Painted”

“Bones” and “Hurricane” are the MS MR singles du jour, but “Painted,” the lead track from sophomore album How Does It Feel, possesses a previously unheard urgency and thrilling pace that expands upon the duo’s compelling first singles.

11 / 21

Little Boots, “Better In The Morning”

Another irresistible confection from U.K. singer-songwriter Little Boots, this one a team-up with taste-making producer Ariel Rechtshaid. A throwback to the cheeky synth-pop of the mid-90’s, “Better In The Morning” features a subtly lovely performance from the veteran critics’ darling.

12 / 21

The Knocks feat. Alex Newell, “Collect My Love”

Alex Newell spends part of the “Collect My Love” video singing the dance track into a bedroom mirror, and that act captures exactly the type of unabashed joy this Knocks single emits. When a gigantic hook sounds appropriate both on the dance floor and in church, you can’t go wrong.

13 / 21

Sam Bruno, “Search Party”

Paper Towns, the latest John Green novel to be adapted into a feature film, did not create as much of a stir as The Fault In Our Stars, and Sam Bruno’s “Search Party” single from its soundtrack did not blow up like Charli XCX’s “Boom Clap” did in 2014. That’s a shame, because “Search Party” is original and prodding, the sound of a promising new songwriter yearning for exploration and achieving it.

14 / 21

OMI, “Hula Hoop”

It’s hard to feel too bad for OMI after “Cheerleader” became the 2015 song of the summer, but, damn, “Hula Hoop” is just as catchy and perhaps even more charming. “Round and round, your loving winds me up/Like a hula, hula hoop” is the silliest love lyric of the year, but it’s also one of the most memorable… and likable.

15 / 21

Kaya Stewart, “In Love With A Boy”

Dave Stewart’s teenage daughter makes her debut with an ode to unrequited love that never tries to overreach. “In Love With A Boy” somehow never caught on, but Stewart’s aesthetic is too intriguing to not expect big things in the coming years.

16 / 21

Years & Years, "King"

The electro-pop group landed a No. 1 hit in the U.K. with this defiant dance jamm and we thought the excitement would translate over to U.S. audiences. We aren't counting out Y&Y's brand of uplifting-yet-moody bangers, and feel like it's just a matter of time before we hear frontman Olly Alexander's voice all over Top 40 radio.

17 / 21

Foxes, "Body Talk"

Foxes has had her share of successes (winning a GRAMMY for "Clarity" with Zedd) and missteps (debut album Glorious didn't connect stateside), but the starlet nailed it with her synth-drenched comeback single. The song kickstarted a string of incredible singles ("Feet Don't Fail Me Now," "Better Love" and "If You Leave Me Now" are all hit-worthy), but "Body Talk” solidified Foxes as a go-to hook singer, and we can't wait to see what her upcoming All I Need album brings.

18 / 21

Petite Meller, "Baby Love"

French experimental pop nymph Petite Meller could be considered a bit too out there to connect with a larger audience, but this feel-good tune is positively irresistible. A light house beat blended with African drums and a chorus that sounds like it’s composed of a bunch of excited kids make "Baby Love" a banger that should have broken straight out of left field.

19 / 21

Sofia Reyes, "Conmigo (Rest of Your Life)"

It's been a moment since we had a Latin female breakthrough a la Shakira or Jennifer Lopez, and we have high hopes in the young Sofia Reyes, who blends English and Spanish influences into her sound. "Conmigo (Rest of Your Life)" was a summery dance bop that was just poppy enough to break through on Top 40; with a ton of support in her corner (Latin superstar Prince Royce signed her), we have a feeling this won't be the last stunning Spanglish single we hear from Ms. Reyes.

20 / 21

Who Is Fancy feat. Ariana Grande & Meghan Trainor, “Boys Like You”

Guys, we really dropped the ball on this one. "Boys Like You" finally deviated from pop’s heteronormative ways, and did so with a perfectly crafted earworm that you couldn't help but groove along to. “Boys Like You” could have been a breakthrough moment for pop radio by showcasing a male singing about flirting with another male, but unfortunately, the song has yet to break into Billboard's Hot 100 chart, despite having two big names attached. The song only came out last month, so we hope there's still time to make this a hit in 2016.

21 / 21

Cady Groves, "Crying Game"

The evocative songwriting and relatable presentation of Cady Groves' "Crying Game" fills a space that Taylor Swift vacated when she embraced huge pop hooks and took over the world. Featured on Groves' Dreams EP, "Crying Game" is worth getting lost in, even if you don't know the story behind the lyrics. 

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Photo of the day

Apr 2: Basket-Bros

Currently on his 'The Man of the Woods' tourJustin Timberlake brought out a special guest for his Cleveland show. LeBron James surprised concertgoers by showing up alongside Timberlake and taking a shot on stage. On Friday, the singer was also seen cheering on LeBron during the Pelicans and Cavaliers game. James gave a shout out on Instagram, "My brother @justintimberlake showed up and showed out last night at the Q! One of the greatest to ever do it in my lifetime and still going strong."